5 Q with Wigner
Lydia Wigner, EI, is a versatile transportation engineer with experience designing a variety of transportation projects, as well as identifying equitable engineering solutions and investment opportunities for communities. She is a member of CMT’s Quality of Life and Traffic Engineering Communities of Practice and recently earned her Transportation Equity certification. She also belongs to industry groups including the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE), the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), and the American Society of Highway Engineers (ASHE). Lydia holds a master’s degree in civil and environmental engineering, as well as a bachelor’s degree in civil and environmental engineering, with an emphasis on transportation. Lydia joined CMT in 2020 and works out of our Nashville, TN, office.

What is the Transportation Equity certification?

It is a certification that helps transportation professionals gain an insightful perspective of the equity implications of transportation systems; employ tools to identify inequities caused by our transportation systems; and understand ways to advance equity through effective and inclusive community outreach programs as well as through accessibility-based planning and design strategies.

What motivated you to pursue the certification?

I have had the distinct pleasure of befriending a kind woman whose current circumstances prohibit her from owning a car. There are very few sidewalks in our neighborhood and the transit system does not service every place she needs to access. As a result, she often walks along the busy five-lane highway to access the supermarket, her pharmacy, and medical care.

I wanted to pursue this certification to ensure I can provide safe, dignified, and accessible multimodal facilities for my friend, as well as for all individuals. I think it can be easy to forget that some do not have the means to travel by car to reach their destination, must depend on others for their transportation needs, or simply prefer not to travel by car due to personal or religious beliefs. These individuals still need access to goods, services, and opportunities and deserve to have as much dignity in travel as auto users.

What were some of the key lessons you took from your training?

In the U.S., we tend to accommodate the vehicle using the system, when what we should do is accommodate the people using the system. We give individuals the opportunity to travel anywhere – so long as they have a car – but transportation professionals should help all people access businesses, institutions, recreation, and other opportunities by enhancing equity and access in our transportation networks. After all, a person’s quality of life is predicated, in part, on their ability to access goods, services, and opportunities – not just on how well they are able to move around.

We can provide more access through physical infrastructure such as bike lanes, sidewalks, greenways, bus lanes, and bus stops. We can also enhance equity through effective public involvement strategies that allow us, as transportation professionals, to understand the social and historical context of each community we serve, as well as the wants and needs of its constituents.

What is the broader applicability of transportation equity principles, beyond those projects that are specifically designated as equity-focused?

Transportation equity principles can be used to prioritize transportation investments, reduce inconsistencies between land-use planning and transportation planning, and encourage economic development.


How has the knowledge from the certification empowered you to provide additional value to clients and their communities?

Pursuing this certification, I have learned best practices to ensure that proper access to goods, services, and opportunities are considered in planning and design. When I work on a corridor study or transportation network assessment, I will be able to provide design and policy recommendations that encourage a more accessible transportation system – providing safe travel for all modes while also ensuring the corridor is an asset to adjacent businesses and residents through prioritization of public space. Furthermore, when I participate in stakeholder engagement and public involvement opportunities, I will be able to take a more inclusive approach to ensure underserved groups and identities have a voice and that intentionally collaborative efforts are pursued between CMT, our partners, and the communities we serve.